Protest in response to war in Middle East

Following Tuesday’s demonstration at the Alma Mater, members of the community gathered at the corner of Neil and Main streets in Champaign for a monthly protest against the war in the Middle East on Saturday afternoon.

About 15 to 25 protesters met for two hours.

The protests are organized by the Anti War, Anti Racism Effort (AWARE) and have occurred on the first Saturday of each month since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, said Karen Medina, graduate student.

The demonstrations were originally held near North Prospect Avenue but moved to the corner of Neil and Main because of counter-protests at that location, better weather conditions and increased amounts of traffic, she added.

“I’m out here because the administration continues its war policy in the Middle East,” said Carl Estabrook, retired University professor. ”It’s doing it in spite of a political process over the last year or so in which they held out the possibility that the policy would change.”

Rohn Koester, University Assistant Journals Production Editor and citizen of Urbana, was also present and offered his reason for protesting.

“I don’t feel like there is a credible concept of victory at this point,” Koester said. “What’s happening now is they’re extending the war in order to create a kind of rhetorical victory.”

Though many of the protesters felt that the demonstration was effective in getting their opinions across to other community members, they were mixed on its effectiveness for bringing change.

“If we can make a few more people aware and conscious of what’s going on, that would help,” said Ron Szoke, retired University academic professional and Champaign community member. “But as for stimulating any profound changes, I’m not sure that’s happening.”